The French pronouns is a very vast topic.

A pronoun is a small word that generally replaces a noun, but it could also replace an adjective or even a clause.

Noun:
Où est mon stylo ? – Il est sur la table
> Where is my pen? – It’s on the table.
Adjective:
Est-ce qu’ils sont grands ? – Oui, ils le sont.
> Are they tall? – Yes, they are.
Clause:
Je suis champion du monde, mais demain, je ne le serai plus.
> I'm world champion, but tomorrow, I won’t be anymore.

As you may know already, every noun has a gender in French (masculine or feminine). Thus, a pronoun usually “agrees” with the gender and the number (singular or plural) of the noun it replaces.

Where are Lea and Cindy? – They are in the kitchen.
> Où sont Léa et Cindy ? – Elles sont à la cuisine.

There are many different pronouns in French, but we can distinguish 6 main categories:

1) Personal pronouns

Subject Reflexive Direct Object Indirect Object Stressed
   Je    me    me    me    moi
   Tu    te    te    te    toi
   Il/Elle/On    se    le/la/l'    lui    lui/elle/soi
   Nous    nous    nous    nous    nous
   Vous    vous    vous    vous    vous
   Ils/Elles    se    les    leur    eux/elles

The subject personal pronouns are the ones you use all the time just like in English, so I won’t really talk about them in this article. But the subject pronoun “on” is quite particular, so I refer you to this article for more information.

The reflexive pronouns are the one used with the pronominal verbs.

As you may notice, the main changes concern the third person singular and plural.

 

Direct Object and Indirect Object pronouns

The point I want to emphasize here is the difference between the Direct Object personal pronouns, and the Indirect Object personal pronouns, because that’s where most people get confused.

In order to know which pronoun you should use to replace a word (noun, adjective, clause) in French, you need to know if it’s a Direct Object or an Indirect Object.

The Direct Object in a sentence, is a thing or person which receives directly the action of the verb. In French schools, we learn to find this Direct Object by asking the question “What? ” (quoi ?) or “Who? ” (qui ?)

Je mange le gâteau. > I’m eating the cake.

(Je mange quoi ? = le gâteau) > (What am I eating? = the cake). So here, le gâteau is the Direct Object, and you will use the corresponding masculine Direct Object pronoun to replace it: “le”.

Je le mange. > I’m eating it.

Other examples:

Il voit ta mère. > He sees your mother.
Il la voit. > He sees her.

 

Tu ouvres les portes de la voiture. > You open the car doors.
Tu les ouvres. > You open them.

The object is indirect when there is a preposition in front of it, generally the preposition à (and its contractions) or pour.  That means the Indirect Object is a thing or person “to or for whom/what” the action of the verb occurs. So you just have to ask the question “To/For Whom/What?” (à/pour   qui/quoi ?) in French:

Je parle à ton père. > I’m talking to your father.

(Je parle à qui ? = à ton père) > (Who am I talking to? = your father). So here, ton père is the Indirect Object, and you will use the corresponding Indirect Object pronoun to replace it: “lui”.

Je lui parle. > I’m talking to him.

Other examples:

Elle ressemble à Beyoncé. > She looks like Beyoncé.
Elle lui ressemble. > She looks like her.

 

J’ai laissé un message pour les enfants. > I left a message for the children.
Je leur ai laissé un message. > I left a message for them.

 

Note that the Direct Object and Indirect Object pronouns are placed in front of the verb (unlike in English).

 

However, there are some verbs followed by Indirect Objects which don’t allow to use an Indirect Object pronoun. Instead, if this object:

- is a person:   you will use a stressed pronoun after the verb and the preposition.

- is a thing:   you will use the pronoun “y behind the verb.

Here are some of these verbs:

   avoir affaire à, to have to deal with s'habituer à, to get used to
   avoir recours à, to have recourse to penser à, to think of/about
   croire à, to believe in renoncer à, to give up / to renounce
   faire allusion à, to allude to revenir à, to come back to
   faire appel à, to appeal to / to adress songer à, to think/dream of
   faire attention à, to be careful with / to pay attention to tenir à, to be fond of / to care about

 

Indirect Object = a person

Je pense à mes amis. > I’m thinking about my friends.
Je pense à eux. > I’m thinking about them.

(You CANNOT say: Je leur pense.)

Tu dois faire attention à cette femme. > You must be careful with this woman.
Tu dois faire attention à elle. > You must be careful with her.

(You CANNOT say: Tu dois lui faire attention.)

Je me suis habitué à ton père > I got used to your father.
Je me suis habitué à lui > I got used to him.

(You CANNOT say: Je me lui suis habitué.)

Indirect Object = a thing

Je pense à mes vacances. > I’m thinking about my holidays.
J’y pense. > I’m thinking about them.

(You CANNOT say: Je leur pense.)

Tu dois faire attention à ta santé. > You must be careful with your health.
Tu dois y faire attention. > You must be careful with it.

(You CANNOT say: Tu dois lui faire attention.)

Je me suis habitué à ton visage. > I got used to your face.
Je m’y suis habitué. > I got used to it.

(You CANNOT say: Je me lui suis habitué.)

One last point concerning Indirect Objects: it’s also possible that they are introduced by the preposition “de” (and its contractions). In this case, if the Indirect Object:

- is a person:   you will use a stressed pronoun after the verb and the preposition “de”.

- is a thing:   you will use the pronoun “en behind the verb.

Indirect Object = a person

Il s’occupe de sa mère. > He takes care of his mother.
Il s’occupe d’elle. > He takes care of her.

 

Tu te souviens de Joe ? > Do you remember Joe?
Tu te souviens de lui ? > Do you remember him?

 

J’ai peur de tes sœurs. > I’m afraid of your sisters.
J’ai peur d’elles. > I’m afraid of it.

Indirect Object = a thing

Il s’occupe du projet. > He takes care of the project.
Il s’en occupe. > He takes care of it.

 

Tu te souviens des blessures sur ma jambe ?
> Do you remember the injuries on my leg?
Tu t’en souviens ? > Do you remember them?

 

J’ai peur de rater mon examen. > I’m afraid to fail my exam.
J’en ai peur. > I’m afraid of it.

Note that when the Indirect Object is a person, French people often make the mistake to use “en”, even though it’s a person. For example you might hear: “Est-ce qu’il s’occupe bien de sa mère ? – Oui, il s’en occupe tous les jours. > Does he take good care of his mother? – Yes, he takes care of her every day”.

 

Stressed pronouns

As evidenced by their name, the stressed pronouns are used to emphasize on the person they refer to. They exist in English as well, but their use can be quite different in French sometimes. Here are some of the main ways to use them:

1) To insist on who you are talking about

Moi je veux pas partir. > (Me), I don’t want to leave.
Tu vas à la soirée toi ? > Are you going to the party (you)?
Ah, je la connais elle ! > Hey, I know her (her)!

This is typical of everyday spoken French, and not written French. Indeed, you actually don’t need to use the stressed pronouns to understand the meaning of these sentences. By the way, in English, you wouldn’t use these pronouns here, that’s why I put them in brackets.

If I remove the pronouns in the French sentences, the English translation would still be:

Je veux pas partir. > I don’t want to leave.
Tu vas à la soirée ? > Are you going to the party?
Ah, je la connais ! > Hey, I know her!

But it’s very common that French people add the stressed pronouns (at the beginning or the end of the sentence) to be very clear about who they are talking about.

 

2) After “C’est” (or sometimes “Ce sont”)

C’est lui qui a raison. > He’s the one who’s right. (lit. It’s him who is right)
C’est nous les étrangers. > We are the foreigners. (lit. It’s us the foreigners)
C’est vous le docteur ? > Are you the doctor? (lit. It’s you the doctor?)

 
3) After a preposition (and hence after the verbs that don’t allow an Indirect Object pronoun as we have seen above).

Elle pense à moi. > She is thinking about me.
J’ai acheté un cadeau pour toi. > I bought a present for you.
La peur qui est en moi > The fear inside myself… (lit. which is in me…)

 
4) To talk about several persons

Toi et elle, vous êtes trop mignons. > You and she are so cute.
Matthieu et moi sommes étudiants. > Matthieu and I are students.

Note that in English, you use the subject pronouns in this situation. You don’t say: “You and her are so cute” or “Matthieu and me are students”.

In French you CANNOT say: “Matthieu et je sommes étudiants”.

 

5) After a conjunction (like “mais, ou, et, donc, or, ni, car…”)

J’ai pas très faim, et toi ? > I’m not very hungry, and you?
Mais eux, est-ce qu’ils sont vivants ? > But them, are they alive?

 
6) After “que” in comparisons, or negations (“ne … que”)

Il est plus fort que moi. > He is stronger than me.
Je n’aime que lui. > I only love him.

 
7) After the preposition “à” to indicate possession

C’est à moi. > It’s mine.
Ce chien est à nous. > This dog is ours.

 
8) With “…-même” to put even more emphasis

Fais-le toi-même ! > Do it yourself!
C’est moi-même qui l’ai préparé. > I prepared it myself.

Note also the rarer indefinite stressed pronounsoi” which corresponds to “on” and which is thus used for unspecified persons. The equivalent of “soi” is “one”, “oneself” or “everyone”.

On doit faire certaines choses par soi-même.
> One must do certain things by oneself.
Je suppose qu’on ne peut pas s’arrêter soi-même.
> I suppose one cannot arrest oneself.
Chacun pour soi ! > Every man for himself!

 

It’s a common mistake for English speakers to pick the wrong pronoun or put it at the wrong place in the sentence. Don’t worry, it’s totally normal, French kids also take a lot of time to truly master them. In fact, French people mainly learn how to use these pronouns thanks to constant repetition and correction from their parents, teachers... At some point, it becomes automatic, and they just say what sounds right to their ear.

So guess what? If you want to sound fluent with the pronouns in French, the only way is to learn them like the French. You have to repeat, make mistakes, repeat again, make even more mistakes… Of course, it’s important to know the theory that I explained above, but trust me, when you have a real conversation in French with a native, you don’t have time to ask yourself “Wait, was that a Direct or Indirect Object? Oh, I think it was a Direct Object, and it’s feminine, so I have to use “la” to replace it”.

My advice would be to try the one that sounds right to you, and always ask the person to correct you if it’s wrong. But not everyone will correct you when you make mistakes, and that’s why it’s essential to practice with a language exchange partner or a tutor/professor at the beginning.

 

2) Possessive pronouns

In English, the possessive pronouns are: mine ; yours ; his/hers/its ; ours ; yours ; theirs. They replace nouns which are possessed by someone or something.

Once again, the difficulty in French concerns gender and number: the possessive pronouns change depending on the gender and number of the noun they replace

Singular Plural
English Masculine Feminine Masculine Feminine
   mine    le mien    la mienne    les miens    les miennes
   yours    le tien    la tienne    les tiens    les tiennes
   his/hers/its    le sien    la sienne    les siens    les siennes
   ours    le nôtre    la nôtre    les nôtres    les nôtres
   yours    le vôtre    la vôtre    les vôtres    les vôtres
   theirs    le leur    la leur    les leurs    les leurs

CAREFUL : note also a big difference with English: in French, the gender and number of the possessor are not important. The possessive pronoun (just like the possessive determiner: “son, sa, ton, ta, mon, ma…) must agree with the noun possessed.

Elle mange son sandwich. > She’s eating her sandwich.
Elle mange le sien. > She’s eating hers.

 

Il prend sa voiture. > He’s taking his car.
Il prend la sienne. > He’s taking his.

 

J’aime beaucoup tes dessins. > I love your drawings.
J’aime beaucoup les tiens. > I love yours.

Don’t forget to always put the right article as well (le, la, les), they go together with the possessive pronouns.

Moreover, note that contractions with the article are always possible:

à + le = au  ;  à + les = aux  ;  de + le = du  ;  de + les = des

Non, pas ton chat, je te parle du mien. (de + le = “du”)
> No, not your cat, I’m talking about mine.

 

J’ai perdu mes clés, donc faites attention aux vôtres. (à + les = “aux”)
> I lost my keys, so be careful with yours.

 

Je veux une tombe à côté de la sienne. (de + la stays “de la”)
> I want a grave next to his/hers.

 

3) Demonstrative pronouns

The demonstrative pronouns in English are: this one, that one, the one(s), these ones, those ones. They replace nouns which were mentioned previously in a sentence.

Just like the possessive pronouns, they change according to the gender and number of the noun replaced

Also, we distinguish between “this one and that one”, or “these ones and those ones” by adding the suffixes -ci (here, nearby) and - (there, further away).

Simple Forms With Suffixes (-ci ; -là)
Singular (masculine and feminine) celui  &  celle celui-ci celle-ci
   celui-là celle-là 
     
Plural (masculine and feminine) ceux  &  celles ceux-ci ceux-là
   celles-ci celles-là 
     
Indefinite Demonstrative ce  /  c’ ceci cela

 

Eh Simon, tu préfères celui-ci ou celui-là ?
> Hey Simon, you prefer this one or that one?

 

T’aimes bien ces chaussettes rouges ? -Non, celles-là sont mieux.
> Do you like these red socks? -No, these ones are better.

Sometimes you don’t have a suffix after the pronoun, instead, you either have the preposition “de” or a relative pronoun.

On prend quel train ? – Celui de 10 heures est moins chère.
> Which train do we take? –The one of 10 o’clock is cheaper.

 

Tu sais, ceux du magasin à côté de la poste.
> You know, the ones from the shop next to the post office.

 

Ah, celle dont tu m’as parlé ?
> Oh, the one you told me about?

 

Celles qui m’intéressent sont plus grandes.
> The ones I’m interested in are bigger.

Careful with the word “celui”. Remember that in modern spoken French, people obviously like to speak faster. So something that is very common is to hear French people say “ssui-ci or ssui-là”. The “e” and the “ l ” disappear.

Indefinite Demonstrative pronouns

The indefinite demonstrative pronouns are quite interesting, because we use them all the time, but we don’t really realize it. They are ce, ça, and ceci/cela.

They are invariable (yes!), and they replace something abstract (a situation, a concept…) or unnamed, unspecific…

  • ce” is the one you use all time with the verb être, but it most of the time becomes “ c’ ” because of the elision to avoid the clash of vowels.
C’est vrai, It’s true ;
C’est aujourd’hui, It’s today ;
C’est pour toi, It’s for you ;
C’était hier, It was yesterday ;
Ce n’est pas possible, It’s not possible…
  • ça” might be used even more, because it’s the one used with any other verb than être.
Tu m’as appelé juste pour ça ? > You called me just for this?
Ça fait quoi d’être adulte ? > What it’s like being an adult?
Je pense que ça va exploser. > I think it’s going to explode.
  • ceci and cela” are equivalent to “ça”, but more for formal speech or written French. They are also the contractions of ce + ici = ceci (this), and ce + = cela (that).

 

4) Relative pronouns

Relative pronouns are extremely useful, because just like in English, they link clauses together in a sentence. A clause is basically what makes a sentence: it contains a subject, a verb and usually an object.

For example, here are two clauses: “Where is the lady?” and “She lives next door.” I can link them with a relative pronoun: “Where is the lady who lives next door?”. The 2nd part of the sentence (who lives next door) is called the subordinate clause and it’s introduced by the relative pronoun.

In English, the relative pronouns are: which, when, where, what, who, whose, whom, that.

In French, there are only five of them: que, qui, dont, lequel,.

But because French and English grammar are different, French pronouns don’t have only one English equivalent. One French relative pronoun can have several translations. Here is a summary of their possible functions and translations:

Pronouns Functions English Translations
Que Direct Object that, what, which, whom,
     
Qui - Subject
- Indirect Object (person)
what, which, who, whom, that
   
Dont - Object of "de"
- for possession
of which, from which, whose, that, including
   
Lequel - Indirect Object (thing) what, which, that
   
- for place or time when, where, which, that

In order to master the relative pronouns in French, it’s important that you understand the differences between Direct Object and Indirect Object which I explained above in this article. You should also know what is the Subject in a sentence (= the person/thing which performs the action of the verb).

 

Que and Qui

Many beginners in French believe that “qui” only means “who”, and “que” means “that”. But that’s not true, when “qui” is a relative pronoun, it can also mean “that”, “what” or “which”.

The difference between que and qui has to do with what part of the sentence they replace.

  • “Que” is used to replace the Direct Object (person or thing) in the subordinate clause.
C’est la maison. Je l’ai achetée > It’s the house. I bought it.

(J’ai acheté quoi ? = la maison) > (What did I buy? = the house). So, la maison = Direct Object, and I replaced it with the Direct Object pronoun “ l’ ” in the 2nd clause.

C’est la maison que j’ai achetée. > It’s the house (that) I bought.

Another example:

Le professeur est parti. Tu le détestes. > The professor is gone. You hate him.
Le professeur que tu détestes est parti. > The professor (that) you hate is gone.
  • “Qui” is used to replace the Subject (person or thing) in the subordinate clause.
J’ai un ami. Il aime jouer au foot. > I have a friend. He likes to play football.
J’ai un ami qui aime jouer au foot. > I have a friend who likes to play football.
Cette invention est utile. Elle vient de Chine.
> This invention is useful. It comes from China.
Cette invention qui vient de Chine est utile.
> This invention which comes from China is useful.

“Qui” also replaces an Indirect Object referring to a person after a preposition in the subordinate clause.

Ce mec est marrant. Tu manges avec ce mec (avec lui).
> This guy is funny. You eat with that guy.
Ce mec avec qui tu manges est marrant.
> This guy with whom you eat is funny.
La fille est belle. Vous avez parlé à cette fille. (lui avez parlé.)
> The girl is beautiful. You spoke to this girl.
La fille à qui vous avez parlé est belle.
> The girl to whom you spoke is beautiful.

However, when the preposition is “de”, then you need to use the relative pronoun “dont”.

And if the Indirect Object refers to a thing, you need to use the relative pronoun “lequel”.

 

Dont

  • So “dont” replaces any person or thing after the preposition “de.
J’ai vu le docteur. Tu m’as parlé de lui.
> I saw the doctor. You told me about him.
J’ai vu le docteur dont tu m’as parlé.
> I saw the doctor (whom) you told me about.
C’est la forêt. Elles ont peur de cette forêt.
> It’s the forest. They are afraid of this forest.
C’est la forêt dont elles ont peur.
> It’s the forest (that) they are afraid of.
  • Since the preposition “de” can express possession, “dont” can as well. If the thing possessed is not a person, you usually translate using “with” in English, because if you translate literraly, it’s a bit weird in English.
Voici le voisin. J’ai repeint la chambre du voisin.
> Here’s the neighbor. I repainted the neighbor's room.
Voici le voisin dont j’ai repeint la chambre.
> Here’s the neighbor whose room I repainted.
C’est la voiture. Les roues de la voiture sont cassées.
> It’s the car. The car wheels are broken.
C’est la voiture dont les roues sont cassées.
> It’s the car with the broken wheels.

(literraly: It’s the car of which the wheels are broken).

Know that in French, people will also usually say:
C’est la voiture avec les roues cassées.
  • “Dont can also replace a part of a group.
Il y avait plusieurs gâteaux. Il y avait un gâteau à la fraise.
> There were many cakes. There was a strawberry cake.
Il y avait plusieurs gâteaux, dont un à la fraise.
> There were many cakes, including a strawberry one.
J’ai beaucoup de collègues. Deux de mes collègues sont anglais.
> I have many colleagues. Two of my colleagues are British.
J’ai beaucoup de collègues, dont deux sont anglais.
> I have many colleagues, two of whom are British.

Lequel

As a relative pronoun, lequel (and its variations) replaces an Indirect Object referring to a thing after a preposition in the subordinate clause.

Singular Plural
Masculine Feminine Masculine Feminine
Forms lequel laquelle lesquels lesquelles
à + lequel = auquel à laquelle auxquels auxquelles
de + lequel = duquel de laquelle desquels desquelles

 

Cette chaise est petite. Tu t’assois sur cette chaise.
> This chair is small. You are sitting on this chair.
Cette chaise sur laquelle tu t’assois est petite.
> This chair on which you are sitting is small.
Ces livres ont disparu. Elle pense à ces livres.
> These books have disappeared. She’s thinking about these books.
Ces livres auxquels elle pense ont disparu.
> These books which she’s thinking about have disappeared.
Le musée va fermer. Je travaille dans le musée.
> The museum will close. I work in this museum.
Le musée dans lequel je travaille va fermer.
> The museum in which I work will close.
Le cinéma coûte chère. J’habite près du cinéma.
> The cinema is expensive. I live near the cinema.
Le cinéma près duquel j’habite coûte chère.
> The cinema near which I live is expensive.

Note that with the last sentence, even though there is the preposition “de” (du cinéma), I used the pronoun “lequel” (duquel) and not “dont”.

It’s because we use “dont” only when “de” is by itself. But when it’s part of a prepositional phrase (such as: près de, near ; à côté de, next to ; en face de, in front of…), we use duquel.

I’m sure you know that “” means “where” as an interrogative pronoun, and also “where” as a relative pronoun:

La ville j’habite n’a pas de gratte-ciels.
> The city where I live has no skyscrapers.
L’endroit il va est dangereux. > The place where he is going is dangerous.

You can find it after prepositions sometimes:

Le pays d’ elle vient est en guerre.
> The country where she comes from is at war.
La route par je suis venu est bloquée.
> The road from where I came is blocked.

However, you might be surprised, but as a relative pronoun, “” has another meaning: “when”. This can be confusing, because “when” is usually “quand”, but only as an interrogative pronoun or as a subordinating conjunction. When you need a relative pronoun to express “when”, you must use “”.

C’est le jour tout a commencé. > It's the day (when) everything started.
2015, c’est l’année j’ai eu 18 ans. > 2015, it’s the year (when) I turned 18.
Il y a un moment je n’en pouvais plus.
> There was a moment when I could not take it anymore.

 

5) Interrogative pronouns

There are 3 interrogative pronouns in French, and you already know them, because they can also be relative pronouns: que, qui and lequel.

To be honest, I don’t even understand why “que” and “qui” are called interrogative pronouns, and not interrogative adverbs (like quand, comment, pourquoi, , combien). But I still know how to use them, and that’s what matters. So it’s the same for you, you just need to know how to use them.

As interrogative pronouns, the difference between “que” and “qui” has to do with whether they refer to a thing or a person. But you’ll see, it gets much more complicated (and confusing…) whether that thing/person is the subject or the object of the sentence…

Que” = “What”. It refers to a thing.

When “what” is the subject of the question, you must use:

  • qu’est-ce qui + a verb in 3rd person singular”
Qu’est-ce qui a changé ? > What has changed?
Qu’est-ce qui est plus important que ta vie ?
> What’s more important than your life?

When “what” is the object of the question, you can use:

  • que + the inversion” (formal) or “qu’est-ce que” (common) or “statement + quoi” (casual)
Que dois-je faire ? > What do I have to do?
Qu’est-ce que je dois faire ? > What do I have to do?
Je dois faire quoi ? > What do I have to do?
Qu’est-ce qu’elles veulent? > What do they want?
Que veulent-elles ? > What do they want?
Elles veulent quoi ? > What do they want?

Note that after a preposition, “que” changes into “quoi” all the time:

De quoi parles-tu ? > What are you talking about?
De quoi est-ce que tu parles ? > What are you talking about?
Tu parles de quoi ? > What are you talking about?
À quoi pensez-vous ? > What are you thinking about?
À quoi est-ce que vous pensez ? > What are you thinking about?
Vous pensez à quoi ? > What are you thinking about?

 

Qui” = “Who” or “Whom”. It refers to a person.

When “who” is the subject of the question, you can either use:

  • qui + a verb in 3rd person singular” or “qui est-ce qui + a verb in 3rd person singular”
Qui veut de l’eau ? > Who wants water?
Qui est-ce qui veut de l’eau ? > Who wants water?
Qui n’a pas de boussole ? > Who does not have a compass?
Qui est-ce qui n’a pas de boussole ? > Who does not have a compass?

When “whom” is the object of the question, you can use:

  • qui + the inversion” (formal) or “qui est-ce que” (common) or “statement + qui” (casual)
Qui veux-tu tuer ? > Whom do you want to kill?
Qui est-ce que tu veux tuer ? > Whom do you want to kill?
Tu veux tuer qui ? > Whom do you want to kill?
Qui a-t-il rencontré ? > Whom did he meet?
Qui est-ce qu’il a rencontré ? > Whom did he meet?
Il a rencontré qui ? > Whom did he meet?

Note that “qui” can also follow a preposition:

De qui a-t-elle besoin ? > Whom does she need?
De qui est-ce qu’elle a besoin ? > Whom does she need?
Elle a besoin de qui ? > Whom does she need?
À qui parles-tu ? > Whom are you talking to?
À qui est-ce que tu parles ? > Whom are you talking to?
Tu parles à qui ? > Whom are you talking to?

Here is a summary about the interrogative pronouns "que" and "qui":

Subject Object After a preposition
Que = thing qu'est-ce qui - que
- qu'est-ce que
quoi
       
Qui (who/whom) = person - qui
- qui est-ce qui
- qui
- qui est-ce que
qui

 

Lequel

Lequel basically means “which one” as an interrogative pronoun. That means it replaces “which + the noun”, which is “quel + the noun” in French.

As we have seen before, the difficulty with lequel is that it agrees with the gender and number of the noun, and also with all the possible contractions with the articles “le” and “les”.

Quel sac veux-tu ? > Which bag do you want?
Lequel veux-tu ? > Which one do you want?
Quel sac est-ce que tu veux ? > Which bag do you want?
Lequel est-ce que tu veux ? > Which one do you want?
Tu veux quel sac ? > Which bag do you want?
Tu veux lequel ? > Which one do you want?

 

À quelle conclusion êtes-vous arrivés ? > To which conclusion did you come to?
À laquelle êtes-vous arrivés ? > To which one did you come to?
À quelle conclusion est-ce que vous êtes arrivés ?
> To which conclusion did you come to?
À laquelle est-ce que vous êtes arrivés ? > To which one did you come to?
Vous êtes arrivés à quelle conclusion ? > To which conclusion did you come to?
Vous êtes arrivés à laquelle ? > To which one did you come to?

 

Près de quel quartier habite-t-il ? > Near which neighborhood does he live?
Près duquel habite-t-il ? > Near which one does he live?
Près de quel quartier est-ce qu’il habite ?
> Near which neighborhood does he live?
Près duquel est-ce qu’il habite ? > Near which neighborhood does he live?
Il habite près de quel quartier ? > Near which neighborhood does he live?
Il habite près duquel ? > Near which one does he live?

 

6) Indefinite pronouns

The indefinite pronouns replace unspecific nouns (persons or things, ideas…).

un(e) autre another one     quelques-un(e)s some / a few
d'autres others     quiconque anyone
certain(e)s certain ones     soi oneself
chacun(e) each one     tel someone
on one/someone/you     tout everything
plusieurs several     tout le monde everyone
quelque chose something     un(e) one
quelqu'un someone    

Many of these indefinite pronouns have an equivalent indefinite adjective. Careful, their function is not the same: a pronoun, as always, replaces a noun. So the indefinite pronoun replaces the indefinite adjective + the noun.

Indefinite pronouns have quite a few rules and characteristics which apply to some of them, but not all of them. So here I will just give you these characteristics and the pronouns that are concerned.

1) These indefinite pronouns must always have an antecedent.

(meaning a previously mentioned/implied noun).

--> un autre, d’autres, certains, chacun, plusieurs, quelques-uns

Voilà la lettre, et une autre va bientôt arriver.
> Here is the letter, and another one will come soon.
J’ai beaucoup d’amis, et plusieurs sont très célèbres.
> I have many friends, and several are very famous.

2) These indefinite pronouns express a quantity.

(so when they are the object of the verb, they must be preceded by the pronoun “en” and replace the noun).

--> un autre, d’autres, certains, plusieurs, quelques-uns

Est-ce que tu as un stylo ? – Oui, j’en ai plusieurs.
> Do you have a pen? – Yes, I have several of them.
Tu veux des biscuits ? – Ouai, je vais en prendre quelques-uns.
> Do you want cookies? – Yeah, I'll take a few.

3) These indefinite pronouns can be followed by “d’entre nous/vous/eux/elles” or with “de + the noun”.

(Careful: in both case, the verb always take a 3rd person conjugation).

--> certains, chacun, plusieurs, quelques-uns, un/l’un

Chacun d’entre vous peut le faire. > Each one of you can do it.
Certains d’entre nous doivent avouer la vérité.
> Some of us must confess the truth.
J’ai écrit à un de mes amis. > I wrote to one of my friends.
Plusieurs de tes dessins sont déchirés. > Several of your drawings are torn.

4) These indefinite pronouns always take the 3rd person singular conjugation of the verb.

--> un autre, chacun, quelque chose, quelqu’un, quiconque, tel, tout, tout le monde, un/l’un (because they are all singular)

Quelque chose me dérange. > Something is bothering me.
Tout le monde est fatigué. > Everyone is tired.
Tout est bien qui finit bien. > All's well that ends well.

And these ones take the 3rd person plural:

--> d’autres, certains, plusieurs, quelques-uns, (because they are all plural)

Plusieurs sont déjà ici. > Several are already here.
Quelques-uns veulent essayer au moins une fois.
> Some want to try at least once.

5) “On” is the indefinite subject pronoun.

On ne peut être heureux qu’avec un partenaire.
> One can only be happy with a partner.
On ne sait jamais. > You never know.

More information about « on » here.

 

6) When “quelque chose” and “quelqu’un” are followed by an adjective, you must put the preposition “de” in between.

J’ai quelque chose d’important à te dire.
> I have something important to tell you.
C’était quelqu’un de dangereux. > It was someone dangerous.

7) “Soi” is the indefinite stressed pronoun.

C’est toujours mieux d’avoir son passeport avec soi.
> It's always better to have your passport with you.
C’est parfaitement normal de travailler pour soi.
> It’s perfectly normal to work for oneself.

8) These indefinite pronouns have to agree with the gender of the noun they replace.

--> Un autre, certains, chacun, quelques-uns, un/l’un

Il veut ce livre ? –Non, il en veut un autre
> He wants this book? –No, he wants another.
Il veut cette tasse ? –Non, il en veut une autre.
> He wants this cup? –No, he wants another.